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The 5 Best Livestock For Beginning Homesteaders

The 5 Best Livestock For Beginning Homesteaders

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There’s nothing more exciting than purchasing your very first homestead. As you mend the fences and fix your new outbuildings, you realize it’s time to think about putting some animals on your property.

That, though, can be a scary thought, especially if you don’t know where to start. Educating yourself and creating a plan for exactly what you want out of your homestead will make things much more enjoyable.

Here’s the list of our five favorites for beginners:

1. Chickens

Chickens are super simple to take care of, and their return is well worth any time and effort you put in to making them happy. They need little space, and so if you are just starting out with a few chickens, you won’t need much room. A chicken coop and a small run is sufficient. Five hens will produce approximately four eggs per day. In no time at all, you’ll have an overflow of eggs and you’ll be in good shape. Chickens also provide great compost for your growing garden.

2. Ducks

Ducks are also great starter animals for your homestead. Like chickens, they don’t require a lot of space and are quite happy as long as they have water to bath in and food to eat. Plus, they are excellent foragers.

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Ducks are very good for your garden, as they are great at keeping pesky bugs off your plants. Their eggs are an excellent source of nutrition, and their meat is also quite nutritious.

3. Rabbits

The 5 Best Livestock For Beginning HomesteadersAdding rabbits to your homestead can be a lot of fun. They cost very little to feed, eating mostly hay and pellets, but they enjoy garden scraps as well. Rabbits also take up very little space; a 4×4 enclosure is perfect for one or two of them. They are an excellent meat source, and just like chickens they provide compost for your garden. Unlike cow or horse manure, you can use rabbit manure right away.

4. Goats

Goats are our fourth pick for beginner homesteaders, especially if you don’t own a lot of land. Goats can be a meat source, a dairy source and are excellent brush-clearers. Remember that goats are natural herd animals, and so owning more than one will be best. Goats are also climbers; having a high fence or even an electric fence will keep your goats safe. If you are raising goats for dairy, they will provide you with approximately one gallon of milk per day. But remember: They do produce less cream than do dairy cows.

5. Pigs

Our last pick for a beginner homesteader probably requires the most time and energy. Pigs only need a pen with strong fencing, but if you have the land, you may consider free-ranging your pigs. This can reduce the amount of food they eat and will also take care of the smell that can come from a stinky pen. Although pigs do require more of us as homesteaders, they obviously provide us with an excellent and very delicious meat source. Keep in mind that sows can have litters up to 10 piglets and can have as many as three litters per year. If you are raising the piglets for meat, it will take a full year before you will get a sufficient amount of meat from them.

Do you agree with our list? What would you change? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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  1. Goats, especially dairy, are not for beginners. The old adage they eat anything is not true, and they are browsing animals not grazing animals. They can and do get sick easy. Mastitis and pneumonia are hard on animals and pockets, and losing an animal isn’t easy on yourself. Also getting goats may sound fun and exciting, but getting quality animals that are sound and free of cae or cl is important. Neither of those is treatable. So please do alot of research before getting any breed of goat.

  2. I like the suggestion of ducks. We might have to add those. We’ve been doing chickens 2 years, and added 2 Gulf Coast native sheep (for wool and meat) last spring. We’re expecting some lambs in a few weeks! We stayed away from goats because they sounded like more work (jumping the fence? Aaah!). We chose our sheep breed carefully after doing a lot of research and finding a breeder/rancher 20 minutes from us to mentor us (and provide ram rental).
    We don’t eat pork or rabbit, but maybe eventually a small breed of meat cow will make it onto our land. With an occasional deer during hunting season, we hope to have a reasonably vaired meat diet.

  3. Lots of good advice. Thank you for your articles. We are older, fairly new to the ideas of self suffiency & prepping. We both grew up in rural areas & learned to be creative in finding solutions to challenges, as well as acquired skills in planning shelters & fencing, using & maintaining lots of different tools, even vehicles. And lots of experience with animals, canning, home cooking!

    When we bought our home, first we bought what we could really afford, not what the lenders said we could afford. Be realistic when purchasing any property & don’t be swayed by hype from resl estate agents who have a vested interest in selling that property thats over your limits! Remember, thefr commissions go up with the price of the property they sell!

    Secondly, take time to really get a feel for the land, climate, soil conditions. Learn how & where rainfall goes; what areas flood or wash out.. That info can greatly affect where you locate shelters, fences, gardens, even affect what livestock you raise or what trees or crops you plant.

    Start small! Learn what each type/breed is supposed to look like & what they are bred to do. Then buy the best you can find. Learn how many animals the property can realistically support. Unless you have a great deal of experience with all the livestock types, it’s better to just begin with a few that are easier to care for. Add more types as you gain experience. There’s nothing sadder than seeing pastures denuded because there’s too many critters for the available forage. Or pens of just manure & mud.

    Compost is a blessing! Use it wisely to change the tilth of the soil ! Adding composted leaves, old hay, shavings & rotted manures will enrich the soil of gardens, pastures, fields & orchards & draw beneficial earthworms, microbes & insects to your land.

    We’ve been blessed with good friends who have helped us develop knowledge of how to pick good livestock, learn to grow & tend gardens and do many other things on our way. And we too have greatly benefited from newsletters like this. Thank you again!

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